The former site of Next Level nightclub will be refurbished, renamed and its new owner is hoping to have it re-opened by early to mid-December.
Island Pools company owner Joe DeFilippo confirmed Friday that he had purchased the nightclub business from former owner Harry Lalli who was never able to get the club going following a deadly shooting inside the premises on 10 September.
The liquor licence-holder, Christian Sorenson, will remain the licensee and building owner.
Mr. DeFilippo said the new club would be called ‘Jet’ and would be redesigned in attempts to bring a more upscale clientele to the establishment.
‘We’re going to put a lot of time into making it very nice inside, and obviously safe,’ he said.
The early morning of 10 September, 35-year-old Carlo Webster was shot in the head on the dance floor of the Next Level and another man was wounded by what police later said was either a bullet ricochet or errant gunfire.
Mr. DeFilippo, who owns O Bar and the Attic bar located on the opposite side of West Bay Road from the former Next Level site, said a significant security presence will be maintained at the new Jet club. He said it will not be unusual to see 10 or more security guards on site during busy evenings.
‘On a busy night at O Bar we have that many,’ Mr. DeFilippo said, adding that he also intended to have K-9 security eventually implemented at Jet nightclub.
Security costs have been steadily rising for Cayman’s nightclub owners, and a few clubs, including Pepper’s and Everglo (Pit Stop) have closed down within the past year or so partly due to violent incidents which have occurred around their premises.
‘Our cost of security at O Bar has gone from $4,000 a month to $10,000 a month in the last two years alone because of the recent violence,’ Mr. DeFilippo said.
Royal Cayman Islands Police and the Liquor Licensing Board have assisted in drafting new proposals for Cayman’s Liquor Licensing Law, but those plans have not come before the Legislative Assembly. Several nightclubs have adopted new security measures, including metal detectors and pat-down searches of patrons, at the request of the board.
No charges have been filed in connection with September’s shooting at Next Level. Police arrested three men within a day after the shooting, but all three were released without charges.